"Masculinity is an Anxiety Disorder: Breaking Down the Nerd Box"

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"Masculinity is an Anxiety Disorder: Breaking Down the Nerd Box"

Post by Enail on Mon Feb 15, 2016 11:43 pm

Trundlebear linked to an interesting article on DNL Prime, and I'd be curious to hear if any of the guys here have thoughts:

http://uncannymagazine.com/article/masculinity-is-an-anxiety-disorder-breaking-down-the-nerd-box/
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Re: "Masculinity is an Anxiety Disorder: Breaking Down the Nerd Box"

Post by BasedBuzzed on Tue Feb 16, 2016 5:22 am

I like the attention it pays to constructed identity and how it is hard to step out of it, and how there isn't one version of hegemonic masculinity (reminds of this: http://prokopetz.tumblr.com/post/107164298477/i-think-my-biggest-huh-moment-with-respect-to ). It's all countersignalling upon countersignalling, which really has plenty of historical examples (Roman masculinity versus Christian masculinity, the dandy, the Cult of Sensibility, the rake, the metrosexual). As an aside that should really be its own thread, you see the same thing with the one-of-the-guys girl bashing vs. femmephobia. All in all, it's the most solid argument against any "Real Men Do X" chauvinism, even when it is done in service of good values.

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Re: "Masculinity is an Anxiety Disorder: Breaking Down the Nerd Box"

Post by Werel on Tue Feb 16, 2016 7:46 pm

NOT A MAN, but: I don't know that the article backed up that super-clickbaity headline (i.e. I am not at all on board with pathologizing masculinity, gender is not a mental illness FFS), but it does make good points about anxiety surrounding dudes' performance of masculinity.

The Nerd Box as a janky replacement for the Mainstream Man Box does make sense, though. I recall trying to break into the Habitrail of Nerd Boxes (Laughing) in middle school when I was feeling like the Woman Box totally fucking sucked, and being astonished to find that it was actually just another Man Box with armed border guards.
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Re: "Masculinity is an Anxiety Disorder: Breaking Down the Nerd Box"

Post by litterature on Tue Feb 16, 2016 8:51 pm

Yeah, I also find the piece makes some pretty good points, plus I think that "Man Box" and "Nerd Box" are pretty useful concepts. It would've been awesome if the part about how the Gender Boxes relate to patriarchy was a bit more developed, and I also think it leaves out "unicorn hunting" as a key feature of toxic attitudes towards nerd women. But I thought it was really interesting!

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Re: "Masculinity is an Anxiety Disorder: Breaking Down the Nerd Box"

Post by Guest on Wed Feb 17, 2016 3:21 am

I couldn't finish reading the whole article I had to stop at the list of behaviors that would be "corrected". I'm sorry.

As a man, this was something of a frustrating read. Maybe it was because I didn't quite understand what they meant by masculinity being an anxiety disorder (and the author constantly barking about a fucking Box got really old really fast) but I found that to be insulting. Now, don't get me wrong, yes, men have a lot of awful ideas about what it means to be masculine/a mayun and there's a lot of shitty re-enforcement about those concepts, I get that. But to go as far as calling masculinity an anxiety disorder...?



EDIT: Regarding "Boxes", my favorite is the Nothing Box.

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Re: "Masculinity is an Anxiety Disorder: Breaking Down the Nerd Box"

Post by BasedBuzzed on Wed Feb 17, 2016 4:52 am

On second read, what Werel and Mikey also rings true, and can probably be cast as a Box too. Enlightened Box? Symptoms include a typical mind fallacy about the universality of discomfort with male gender roles, viewing all behaviour about a certain stratum through the lens of subconscious pattern following instead of choice, etcetera?

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Re: "Masculinity is an Anxiety Disorder: Breaking Down the Nerd Box"

Post by Werel on Wed Feb 17, 2016 9:02 pm

BasedBuzzed wrote:On second read, what Werel and Mikey also rings true, and can probably be cast as a Box too. Enlightened Box? Symptoms include a typical mind fallacy about the universality of discomfort with male gender roles, viewing all behaviour about a certain stratum through the lens of subconscious pattern following instead of choice, etcetera?
Laughing Enlightened Box works for me. Assumptions that the other team's behavior can only be explained by their malice and/or ignorance; assumptions that conventional masculinity is never a thing anyone opts into with free and informed consent; conspicuous, unconvincing disavowal that one considers one's own homegrown Gender Box superior ("To reject our received understanding of gender does not have to mean that you must be like me, and change the way that you identify. You may still be a man, just not that confused, unattainable 'ideal' of a Man").

The Mikey wrote:EDIT: Regarding "Boxes", my favorite is the Nothing Box.
I got a chuckle or two out of that video, but I really didn't dig him hauling out the ol' "women's cognition operates under a film of incessant throbbing EEEEEMOTIONS and men's doesn't" concept, nor his insistence that women don't have a Nothing Box. Motherfucker, I spend all the time I can in the Nothing Box. I make lifestyle choices for the benefit of my Nothing Box. Whereas my partner is definitely a dude, and does not have a Nothing Box. He's the one with the constant buzzing of inextricably interconnected topics while every chance I get I'm all
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Re: "Masculinity is an Anxiety Disorder: Breaking Down the Nerd Box"

Post by Guest on Thu Feb 18, 2016 12:31 am

Werel wrote:
I got a chuckle or two out of that video, but I really didn't dig him hauling out the ol' "women's cognition operates under a film of incessant throbbing EEEEEMOTIONS and men's doesn't" concept, nor his insistence that women don't have a Nothing Box. Motherfucker, I spend all the time I can in the Nothing Box. I make lifestyle choices for the benefit of my Nothing Box. Whereas my partner is definitely a dude, and does not have a Nothing Box. He's the one with the constant buzzing of inextricably interconnected topics while every chance I get I'm all

Yeah I know i didn't agree with the video 100% either when I first watched it and that's just part of a much longer lecture he gives. It's actually quite interesting, I just felt like being snarky but I didn't link it to the time with the nothing box part. Laughing

But yes, a married friend of mine has a nothing box too, it's pretty funny. Razz

EDIT: That gif is also a brilliant representation of my brain from age 6 to... now.

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Re: "Masculinity is an Anxiety Disorder: Breaking Down the Nerd Box"

Post by litterature on Thu Feb 18, 2016 1:06 pm

BasedBuzzed wrote:On second read, what Werel and Mikey also rings true, and can probably be cast as a Box too. Enlightened Box? Symptoms include a typical mind fallacy about the universality of discomfort with male gender roles, viewing all behaviour about a certain stratum through the lens of subconscious pattern following instead of choice, etcetera?

I'm not sure it's an elitist attitude. The author isn't a man, so maybe the article lacks perspective, but after all traditional masculinity isn't just a harmless matter of identity. I don't think anyone should be offended by the notion that traditional gender roles and the way they're enforced (particularly by men) are a social disease. I do agree that the bit about the author's gender feels really forced and makes the rest of the piece look like a bad excuse, though.

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Re: "Masculinity is an Anxiety Disorder: Breaking Down the Nerd Box"

Post by BasedBuzzed on Thu Feb 18, 2016 1:33 pm

litterature wrote:
BasedBuzzed wrote:On second read, what Werel and Mikey also rings true, and can probably be cast as a Box too. Enlightened Box? Symptoms include a typical mind fallacy about the universality of discomfort with male gender roles, viewing all behaviour about a certain stratum through the lens of subconscious pattern following instead of choice, etcetera?

I'm not sure it's an elitist attitude. The author isn't a man, so maybe he lacks perspective, but after all traditional masculinity isn't just a harmless matter of identity. I don't think anyone should be offended by the notion that traditional gender roles and the way they're enforced (mostly by men) are a social disease.

It's a human attitude (this has a nasty habit of falling into infinite recursion, as me pointing out how out-of-the-box thinking can be used to position yourself above the crowd can also be cast as a form of pedantry). I do not think anyone is saying it is harmless (at least I'm not), and the rhetorical trick of pathologizing something is also a disease, one which people rightly get offended by.

Taking offense to a manner of phrasing may not be productive, and depending on the manner in which one takes offense it can be at odds with whatever goes for reality, but it is understandable, and it is far too easy to also incorporate the reaction into the pathology (we see this with the concept of fragile masculinity, which is just the accusation of a victim complex with the numbers filed off). I don't think there is merit in debating which gender enforces oppositional sexism more (I have a strong suspicion that outside of alternative communities this will be whatever gender one hangs around the most at any given time, because social dynamics are a bastard).

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Re: "Masculinity is an Anxiety Disorder: Breaking Down the Nerd Box"

Post by Werel on Thu Feb 18, 2016 2:58 pm

Hm... litterature, I see what you're saying about traditional masculinity not being harmless, but I'm kind of with BasedBuzzed that making it into a disease does more harm than good. The disease rhetoric implies that there's a way of doing gender that's "healthy," and ways that are not "healthy," and that reads like the same troubling dichotomy that's held up non-traditional gender expression as "unhealthy" in the recent past. I can see where folks would take offense to that (even if offense-taking gets them nowhere).
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Re: "Masculinity is an Anxiety Disorder: Breaking Down the Nerd Box"

Post by litterature on Fri Feb 19, 2016 11:23 am

Yeah, I agree pathologising stuff is never right.
I think it's not too productive to talk about gender in an individual basis since gender is a social structure and it's not really up to you to choose which place you occupy within it, but I think it's ok to talk about how that structure is reproduced by individuals in everyday life. And if that's the context then I think it's not that unreasonable to point out that there are wrong attitudes, and not just individual attitudes, but widespread social rituals that seem to be important for many people's individual identity.
However, I'm not sure that's what the author is doing. I didn't like the "you don't have to be like me" part at all, and it makes me think the whole article is a bit misguided to be honest. But, to me at least, the point that it's part of mainstream masculinity to police everyone's gender in a toxic way still stands, as does the point that you can also find this policing in other, less mainstream, masculinities...

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Re: "Masculinity is an Anxiety Disorder: Breaking Down the Nerd Box"

Post by Paladin on Mon Feb 22, 2016 2:32 am

While I really do like most of this article, I gotta second the concerns about pathologizing masculinity. I think it's a bit telling that the author ultimately ended up no longer identifying as male at all. There's a little whiff of "and you should too", I suppose because it's healthier. "You need not wear skirts or dresses, though they are extremely comfortable, particularly in warm weather." Lines like that. (Also, dresses may be comfortable, but they generally don't have pockets. You're welcome to them, but I'll stick to slightly more practically clothing).

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Re: "Masculinity is an Anxiety Disorder: Breaking Down the Nerd Box"

Post by Werel on Mon Feb 22, 2016 3:01 am

Science win! Lots of dresses and skirts do have pockets

Super practical in hot weather, I'll give the author that.
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Re: "Masculinity is an Anxiety Disorder: Breaking Down the Nerd Box"

Post by litterature on Mon Feb 22, 2016 6:16 am

Oh, I think that line was just slightly provocative. I don't think there's anything wrong with that, but it wasn't particularly well-executed.

On the practicality of skirts vs trousers:
http://peterturchin.com/blog/2012/07/07/cultural-evolution-of-pants/
https://evolution-institute.org/blog/cultural-evolution-of-pants-ii/?source=sef

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Re: "Masculinity is an Anxiety Disorder: Breaking Down the Nerd Box"

Post by Caffeinated on Mon Feb 22, 2016 4:03 pm

I just read an article that I think (I hope) fits into this discussion: "The Opposite of Rape Culture is Nurturance Culture". It's a long read, and here's an excerpt:

A meme going around says ‘Rape is about violence, not sex. If someone were to hit you with a spade, you wouldn’t call it gardening.’ And this is true. But it is just the surface of the truth. The depths say something more, something about violence.

Violence is nurturance turned backwards.

These things are connected, they must be connected. Violence and nurturance are two sides of the same coin. I struggle to understand this even as I write it.

Compassion for self and compassion for others grow together and are connected; this means that men finding and recuperating the lost parts of themselves will heal everyone. If a lot of men grow up learning not to love their true selves, learning that their own healthy attachment needs (emotional safety, nurturance, connection, love, trust) are weak and wrong – that anyone’s attachment, or emotional safety, needs are weak and wrong – this can lead to two things.

1. They may be less able to experience women as whole people with intelligible needs and feelings (for autonomy, for emotional safety, for attunement, for trust).

2. They may be less able to make sense of their own needs for connection, transmuting them instead into distorted but more socially mirrored forms.

To heal rape culture, then, men build masculine nurturance skills: nurturance and recuperation of their true selves, and nurturance of the people of all genders around them.

I am discovering a secret, slowly: the men I know who are exceptionally nurturing lovers, fathers, coworkers, close friends to their friends, who know how to make people feel safe, have almost no outlets through which to learn or share this hardwon skill with other men. They may have had a role model at home, if they are lucky, in the form of an exceptionally nurturing father, but if they do not have this model they have had to figure everything out through trial and error, alone, or by learning with women rather than men. This knowledge shapes everything: assumptions about the significance of needs, how one ought to respond to them, what closeness feels like, how to love your own soul, and what kind of nurturance is actually meant to happen in intimate space.

Meanwhile, the men I know who are kind, goodhearted people, but who are earlier on in growing into their own models for self-love and learning how to comfort and nurture others, have no men to ask. Growing entails growing pains, certainly, but the way can be smoothed when one does not have to learn everything alone.

Men do not talk to one another about nurturance skills: doing so feels too intimate, or the codes of masculinity make doing so too frightening. If they can’t ask and teach each other – if they can’t even find out which other men in their lives would welcome these conversations – then how do they learn?

Men have capacities to heal that are particularly masculine and particularly healing. They often are not fully aware of this deep gift and how helpful it can be for those close to them, whether family or close friends.

To completely transform this culture of misogyny, then, men must do more than ‘not assault.’ We must call on masculinity to become whole and nurturing of self and others, to recognize that attachment needs are healthy and normal and not ‘female,’ and thus to expect of men to heal themselves and others the same way we expect women to ‘be nurturers.’ It is time men recognize and nurture their own healing gifts.
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Re: "Masculinity is an Anxiety Disorder: Breaking Down the Nerd Box"

Post by kath on Thu Feb 25, 2016 2:34 am

Such a cool article, thank you for sharing it!
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Re: "Masculinity is an Anxiety Disorder: Breaking Down the Nerd Box"

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